Oct 10 2019
We take a look at some #MeiWithHongKong artwork, and explore the influences of gaming on our protest art, as well as the movement itself.
HK mvmt’s newest icon is a scientist called Mei from Xi’an who shoots w/ her ice guns. When Blizzard punished gamer @blitzchung for supporting HK in an after-match interview, netizens decided in all their chaotic goodness to co-opt Mei into a revolutionary protest figure.
The internet turned Mei into a HKer. She douses out tg. She's an ☂ in hand, shield at her hips, & sensibly wears a gas mask. And she shouts the words that got @blitzchung banned, the words that hv become HKer's rallying cry - 'Liberate HK, Revolution of our times!’
Apart from Mei, we’ve also seen some truly bizarre/inspired Blizzard memes based on the 1989 ‘tank man’ photo. One shows the man facing off tanks of Starcraft; another, in Lordaeron in Warcraft. The last is the same scene, but depicted via Hearthstone cards (in Korean!). 😂
For artists at home or abroad who've created these truly gorgeous, truly bonkers pics, thank you for joining your voices with ours. The universality of art (and memes!) means it can speak abt resistance more powerfully & reach more ppl than words may. Art can slay dragons.
Pop-inspired HK art is not new- see my Marvel & Star Wars thread. What’s new is the international aspect of the art. It's as if others stepped into HKer's new collective reality & decided they wld like to play a part too. The art rage for HK has gone global.
I mention 'collective reality', bcos looking at the mvmt thru a gaming lens is not w/out its value. A fight for democracy vs. an oppressive regime is a lot to take in as a new normal. But grinding thru minions w/ the aim of taking down a big bad? That's just an RPG.
Our art uses gaming to frame HK's new reality. For example, police brutality is so bad, our art says, we must be living in some fictional hyperviolent world. The RPG art here also hints at sth sadder - the HKPF had a choice to not escalate violence; they did it anyway.
The gaming influence on the mvmt can also be seen in the various distinct roles HKers can play. Think character classes in RPGs or LARPs where ppl have speciality skills and gear, and certain codes for behaviour; with a balanced enough team, you can take down anyone.
For tanks, the 'braves' get decked out in legend-tier gear to face off teargas and rubber bullets. With hardhats, face mask, goggles, heavy-duty gloves, and the all important shield, they protect others and help the frontline advance.
For damage, our 'braves' bring rackets to volley tg cannisters back at HKPF. There're others who spray water, oil -& marbles!- on the strts to make HKPF literally slip. We've also seen a new grp appear in the art recently - mages who specialise in a little ... 'fire magic'.
For support, our first aiders heal, the volunteer fire department puts out teargas, our social workers & logistic grp provide aid. Peaceful ‘woleifei’s boost morale, and all the beautiful art you've seen on my threads made by the publicity group? - definitely buffs.
These pre-defined roles helped the leaderless mvmt get organised; it also helped impose some order in a an increasingly chaotic world. The problem is none of this RPG-inspired system really works IRL - scrum of skirmishes means that range specialists wld need to melee, etc.
And as suppression intensified, the frontline & the resistance has also changed. The security guard blocking HKPF from entering private property is as much a 'brave' as the student defiantly wearing a mask into school, as the housewife shouting slogans from her window…
... as brave as those speaking openly abt sexual assaults at hands of HKPF, as the artists making Mei memes, as the esports player supporting his home...The structured roles & rules given us by games fall apart, because neither role nor rules seem entirely well-defined now.
The idea that the HK mvmt needs ppl from all walks of life, w/ their own special skills and assets live on though. Discussions in recent weeks about women's awesome contributions to the protests, as well as a focus on giving voice to minority grps in HK hv been encouraging.
So, I've watched this Mei episode w/ excitement & trepidation. Former as it's nice to hv int'l support for HK's cause & more art! Latter bcos the support's coming from a corner of the internet that's known to have its own serious issues around letting all voices be heard...
Every voice matters, as our games & mvmt hv taught us. It's what HKers hv been protesting for, to create a world where a Xi'an scientist can voice revolutionary slogans, where the diaspora can speak out abt China, where HKers can be free; this world is worth fighting for.
Bonus: Hearthstone cards edition. From Twitter/Reddit/TG. Have tried to tag creators where I cld trace source - if I left you out, @ me to add.
Bonus 2: More Mei art. From Twitter/Reddit/TG. Have tried to tag creators where I cld trace source - if I left you out, @ me to add.
UPDATE: We actually have a new class of 'mage' appear in the movement, after the pyromancers and ... er, poop wizards - the 'Money Mage', who uses magic to 'punish' pro-democracy shops.